‘Industrial Harmony Due to Mutual Trust’

The Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr Stephen Amoanor-Kwao, has attributed the current industrial harmony in the country to the sincerity with which the Government went about salary increase negotiations. He said the Government and organised labour worked closely throughout the salary negotiations for 2009 and that engendered mutual trust, which translated into the current industrial harmony. Mr Amoanor-Kwao was responding to a question posed by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Atwima-Mponua, Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah in Parliament yesterday. The MP asked the minister when negotiations for wages and salaries for workers would be concluded, in view of the rise in fuel prices and the subsequent increases in the cost of living. Responding, the minister said governments had over the years awarded annual salary increments to public sector workers to cushion them against financial hardships and to also motivate them to increase productivity. Mr Amaoanor-Kwao explained that the government had followed the tradition and had also increased salaries of public sector workers for 2009 following conclusion of negotiations on July 7, 2009 with public sector employees, the. Ghana Health Service Workers Union (HSWU) and the Ghana Medical Association. He said while the salaries of the public sector employees were increased by 17 per cent, those of the GMA and the HSWU were increased by 10 per cent. However, the NPP Member of Parliament for Afigya Sekyere, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, and his colleague MP for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, disputed the minister's figures, pointing out that since inflation exceeded 17 per cent workers were now worse off. Mr Amoanor-Kwao explained further that the 17 per cent salary increase for organised labour this year also exceeded what workers got last year by two per cent, while what was given to members of the GMA was an increase of three per cent compared to that of 2008. The Minister refuted clams by the MP for Manhyia, Dr Mattew Opoku Prempeh that doctors had not accepted the 10 per cent increase, and that although there was a deadlock, the issue was resolved by the intervention of the Labour Commission. Mr Amoanor-Kwao expressed the hope that the new salary levels would motivate public sector employees to offer their best and remain loyal and committed to the Government to sustain the ongoing industrial peace in the country. He also gave the assurance that negotiations for salary increases for 2010 would also be concluded in peace to further enhance the harmony between organised labour and the Government. Meanwhile, a Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, for his part, gave the assurance that efforts were being made by the ministry to secure more funds for its electrification programmes. He said a proposed loan of about $387 million was currently before the Ministry of Finance, and explained that if Cabinet gave the go-ahead and it received parliamentary approval, more communities would be hooked onto the national grid. Mr Buah was responding to a number of questions' posed to him by some MPs who inquired about when certain communities in their constituencies would be hooked on to the national grid. He said the ministry was working towards achieving its medium-term target of 60 per cent coverage by 2015 and long-term target of 100 per cent by 2020. In another development, the report of the Appointments Committee on the President's nominations for appointment to the Supreme Court was also laid before the House for consideration at yesterday's sitting. Debate on the report was, however, deferred to today since not all the MPs had copies of the report.